It’s becoming a common term around the baseball world that players had a “Hall of Very Good” career.
After receiving just five votes on this past year’s Hall of Fame ballot, it appears as though Lance Berkman is another player on a laundry list of names to be inducted into that second-tier, hypothetical Hall.
However, from a statistical standpoint, people have been underrating and underappreciating the offensive wizard that was “Fat Elvis.”
Berkman never won a batting title in his career, nor did he win an MVP. He was a career -18 DRS outfielder, and a net +1 DRS defensive player between first base and the outfield. On top of that, he was an All-Star just six times in his 15-year MLB career; so why would someone like be deserving of a plaque in such a prestigious Hall amongst baseball’s greatest players of All-Time?
Well, the proof is in the pudding. Berkman finished with a slash line of .293/.406/.537, 366 home runs, 1,234 runs batted in, 422 doubles, 1,905 hits, and an fWAR of 55.9 in his 15 years spent with the Astros, Yankees, Cardinals, and Rangers. While the slash line is impressive, the individual numbers don’t really jump out at you. But in the dawn of time where voters love to look at advanced analytics, Lance Berkman’s career begins to produce a stronger case for Cooperstown.
His 144 wRC+ is tied for 43rd all-time with Hall-of-Famers Nap Lajoie and Eddie Collins, and higher than the likes of Harmon Killebrew and Eddie Matthews. His 55.9 fWAR is higher than 2018 Hall of Fame inductee Vlad Guerrero Sr. and 1998 Veteran’s Committee inductee Larry Doby. On top of that, he possesses the 26th-best OPS of all-time (.943).
Combine all of that with the fact Berkman was one of the best switch-hitters of the 21st century to this point, and it seems almost criminal that he couldn’t stay on the ballot for longer than one year.
Could it be the name? Let’s see how Twitter feels about him when we remove the name from the numbers.
Berkman is Player A, and Vlad Sr. is Player B.
There’s always the Veteran’s Committee for the 2011 World Series Champion, but for now, Berkman remains one of the most criminally underrated players of this era, and he at least deserved a more elongated look on the Hall of Fame ballot.